Differentiation vs. Annihilation
Third in a four part series.
According to the New Milan Dictionary:
Differentiation: “To distinguish oneself as different from another.”
Annihilation: “To make something go away as though it didn’t exist.”
So… remember the little kid from last week’s newsletter whose anxious hovering mom couldn’t let him get too far from her protective grasp?
What happens when he grows up?
It is likely that he will be distressed by the normal pressures that adulthood brings.
He will struggle with allowing himself or others to “differentiate” because of his insecurity.
He will want them to stay close so he feels safe and he will not want others to drift too far so that he becomes anxious.
Anytime others choose to be different in some way … even to have a different opinion or independent thought, his natural impulse will be to control others with anger or clinginess so that they cannot distance themselves emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, or socially.
He will not allow the differentiation of others for in his developmentally weakened condition he will be compelled to annihilate others to reduce his own separation anxiety.
An anxiety flawlessly passed on from one generation to another by an insecure but well-meaning mother.
Quite common as a matter of fact.
It is the birth of the Pleaser attachment style.
But what about the opposite kind of parent?
You know, the one who never seems to be there for you to talk or process feelings.
The dad or mom who is task oriented and impatient with emotions… perhaps even mocking them or painting feelings in a disparaging manner?
The one who freezes when asked personal and intimate questions, who gets impatient with it all and who then pushes intruders away?
Oh that parent?
God created babies and children to be able to bond with their parents from the moment they are born.
It is innate to their genetic makeup.
They are programmed to need the parent and be dependent upon them for their very existence.
When a parent pushes them away, among other things, it creates an insecurity or internal anxiety within the child.
The child then seeks to gain the approval of the parent by pursuit or attention getting behaviors.
If rebuffed by the parent for a long enough period of time, the despairing child retreats into an internalized and self-contained world.
This self-sufficient, emotionally autonomous existence delays the development of the child’s emotional awareness and ability to express his or her feelings.
As the child grows, he or she learns to be comfortable in an emotionless world.
That is, where emotions are not contemplated within his or her own soul or within the heart of others.
While this unconscious self-protection mode may serve the child well as a way to cope with an emotionally barren home, when he or she grows up, they will be highly insecure in adulthood.
In this insecure state, the Avoider attachment style will annihilate anyone or anything that makes them feel emotionally threatened.
If they are a male, they will tend to sexualize emotional connection and intimacy.
They usually feel the closest to their spouse during and after sex.
They are fairly good at allowing others to differentiate from them, because when others are distanced, they feel less threatened.
Separation actually relieves their insecurity.
Emotional closeness heightens it.
So, is it really healthy differentiation or is it a form of relief that the pressure is off?
It’s the latter.
So, for the Avoider, the distancing and unavailability of the parent during their childhood caused relational injuries and insecurities, which in turn sabotage healthy bonding and differentiation in marriage.
So, where do Vacillators come from?
A parental pattern of which includes both intrusion and distancing.
The child never quite knows his or her status.
They are groomed to be pre-occupied and hyper-vigilant as they look, wonder, and long for consistent connection.
They emerge into adulthood highly insecure and self-conscious.
They are hurt and get angry when others don’t stay close to them.
Anything that a spouse does that feels anyway exclusionary, is met with stubborn resistance.
“Get back here! You can’t do that! Don’t ignore me!”
If the commands are obeyed by an insecure spouse, eventually the personhood of the spouse is annihilated.
They are no longer allowed to be different in any way.
To the Vacillator, any attempt to be different feels like rejection.
Love and blessings,
Milan and Kay